A Compost Recipe – It’s Like Baking a Cake!

When you use a good recipe, the end result — even compost — smells lovely!

I’m sure everyone has that one recipe that is passed down through the generations. The recipe that has been perfected over the years; that we all know, if you miss just one step, the entire recipe is shot!

It’s funny, most of you probably started thinking about your great grandmother’s banana bread, your mother’s meatloaf, or maybe grandpa’s pulled pork; me, I’m thinking about compost!

Yes that’s right, leftover food waste, compostable papers, the works!  I’ve realized that even something relatively simple like composting needs a recipe, and the recipe needs to be followed.

Composting is like baking a cake, you have to add the right ingredients, you need the proper moisture level (wetness), you have to mix it in order to get oxygen (air flow), and you have to control the temperature (heat).  If you follow the compost recipe you end up with perfect compost material that can be used on your gardens and lawn.

Whether done in a large, 90,000 tonne indoor composting facility or in your backyard composter, or in your curbside GreenCart,  a specific recipe must be followed so all that food waste breaks down properly.

Composting at a large indoor facility requires constant monitoring.  Each day, material is brought to it that can be dramatically different from the previous day’s loads.  If one day brings in very wet and saturated food waste, this material becomes very challenging to compost on its own.  If it were placed directly into the facility, the tunnel would begin to smell.  To prevent this, the operator adds “dry” or “brown” carbon material, such as wood chips as part of their recipe for good composting.  If the material is too dry, then they add water so the pile has just the right amount of moisture.  So, operators at these facilities follow a specific compost recipe to ensure their facilities run smoothly and continually compost materials without any issues.

Many residents continue to use a backyard composter.  Every day they trek to their backyard composter to throw out food scraps or yard waste.  After many long months they’re rewarded with “black gold” compost that could be used on the lawn and in gardens, introducing valuable nutrients to the soil.  I’m sure you remember being instructed to add leaves you collected in the fall to the compost in order to add “dry” material to the pile.  Then, every couple of weeks you turn the pile, adding in air. What you may not realize is that you are following a recipe for your own backyard composter.

While many residents are backyard composting, even more are participating in the Region’s GreenCart program. Residents have embraced this program but people often express concern about odours coming from their GreenCarts especially in the summer months.  What they don’t realize is that the smells could be reduced simply by changing the way they handle the food waste.  Enter the perfect recipe for GreenCart composting!  You want to add equal amounts of thinly layered dry paper waste to your wet food waste. The paper will absorb all the moisture caused by the food waste and compostable bags, keeping your GreenCart dry and smell free.  Items that can be used are: paper bags, paper towels, facial tissue, a few sheets of newspaper, or shredded paper. It’s that simple!

So next time you add food waste to your backyard composter or GreenCart be sure to follow my compost recipe to ensure success!  Let me know how it goes!

About Nicole Watt

Hi! I am the GreenCart Program Coordinator. I have introduced the GreenCart program in Halton Region, and am continuing to work on implementing the GreenCart program into publicly-funded schools, townhouse complexes and apartment buildings.
This entry was posted in Compost, Education, Green Living, GreenCart, Houses, Recycle, Schools and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Compost Recipe – It’s Like Baking a Cake!

  1. Linda says:

    Nice article, really liking it.

  2. I’m wondering how much would a green waste collection grand rapids mi impact the reduce the intake for regular landfills?

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